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Plus actual beer batter recipes, of course.
Beer does some amazing things in batter for deep-fried foods. The CO2 gas in a can of Bud keeps things light and airy, and helps the batter cook fast, meaning the cod underneath can emerge moist and properly à point. But what kind of beer is best for beer batter recipes?
Aggressively hoppy beers (West Coast IPA, for example) can leave those zucchini fritters trailing a bitter aftertaste, but that doesn’t mean your best option is a bland factory macrobrew (although sometime those do work beautifully). A deeper, richer flavor can be important in some battered fry foods—think of the malty, bready flavors in a porter, for instance, in that batter for sweet apple fritters. Other times, you’ll want to let the fried item itself shine through.
Here, in random order, is a brace of beers you should consider adding to your fry-batter mix—plus, seven recipes to help you use them. And if you’re looking for something to wash every crispy bit down, check out our favorite beer clubs and subscriptions.
Cheap, accessible, and classic, this pop-top macro lager adds CO2 without aggressive flavor, and a hipster credibility that might be the perfect accessory for your semi-ironic Midwestern Friday fish fry. (The new PBR Easy low-calorie beer would also work, but is there really a point if you’re deep frying your food anyway?)
Another macro lager (see PBR, above), this Golden, Colorado classic gives you unobtrusive flavor and a big, fizzy lift.
A Wisconsin fish fry calls for a Wisconsin macrobrew. Also, for the cost of a craft-brew 6-pack, you can lug home a 24-pack. Plenty for the batter, plenty for you.
British bitters aren’t actually bitter; they’re rich and malty, with a bready taste that works really well in batter. This Deschutes Bachelor gives a nice golden-brown color to the finished coating, too. (Update: While this particular brew is out of rotation, check out some other top-rated ESB options—or if you want to brew your own, try this Bachelor ESB clone recipe.)
Fish and chips taste extra-English when you pop a bit of this in the batter. This pale, malty lager adds fizz and a bit of subtle richness without asserting itself too much.
Clean and crisp, with a nutty bit of caramel at the end. This is a pedigreed craft brew to devote to your fry-up, so wait till your guests arrive to tip it into the bowl.
The hops give this one a floral quality—they’ll be lost in the cooked batter, but the caramel-edged malty sweetness should survive nicely.
Roasty, with a lightly malted flavor, scant caramel and zero bitterness. Perfect choice for a vegetable fritto misto.
Crisp and elegant, but with a richness you feel mid-palate. Tip some into calamari batter and sip the rest.
Now that you know which beers to use, check out some recipes that boast a beer batter crunch.
Classic crispy fish tacos are best eaten quickly, ideally in front of the ocean, though they still taste amazing in your own kitchen too (if you have a view of the ocean from there, can we come over?). Get Uno Dos Tacos’ Fish Tacos recipe.
No need to go across the pond for top-notch fish and chips. But by all means, use an English ale in the batter. Get our Fish and Chips recipe.
While most beer batter recipes have a certain down-to-earth quality, these fritters from the “Bouchon” cookbook are unquestionably more refined. Most importantly, though, they’re still super crunchy and light (and perfect for dipping in various sauces). Get Thomas Keller’s Cod Brandade Fritters recipe.
Egg white lightens the beer batter for these shrimp and okra fritters even more. Creole seasoning gives them a nice spice even without the rémoulade, though we wouldn’t want to skip it either. Get our Shrimp and Okra Hushpuppies recipe.
This Japanese fried chicken recipe actually calls for sparkling water to give the batter bubbly lift, but you could easily replace that with beer, the lighter the better if you don’t want to alter the flavor too much. The only side you should think about serving with this is Japanese potato salad. Get Susan Feniger’s Tatsutage Fried Chicken recipe.
State fair food, but better. These mini, beer-battered corn dogs swap out frankfurters for pieces of bratwurst or kielbasa. Ketchup or mustard for dipping: the choice is yours (but we might judge you for one of them). Also: try a drizzle of honey for a change. Get our Mini Beer and Sausage Corndog recipe.